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Pitch, Patch, or Potter?


Don Noon
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Roughing out a 1-pc back uncovered this thing, no clue on the surface before starting.  What to do...

-Pitch this back and start over (aarrrghh)

-Patch it... this would be a really challenging thing to do well, with the idea that I could possibly whittle out the defect, saw out a nearby hunk from the inside and try to match the grain and flame and shape of the long, skinny, squiggly cutout.  There's no assurance that this could be done without some mismatched flame or something that would stand out, and once starting down this path, there's no turning back.

-Potter... just leave it, finish it, and call it a Harry Potter scar, which might not be quite so bad under varnish.

There's no structural or tonal concern, as it's not a crack, and it's nowhere near the soundpost.  There's just a small ratty zone near the middle that I've already dug out and filled.  I am currently leaning toward the last option, as this it too nice of a back to throw out (not to mention the effort invested up to this point), and the patch idea is a bit frightening.

Defect.thumb.jpg.566873827c56d2d3cbca2faab27d9640.jpg

 

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I have had a few surprises like this.   I have had good success minimizing the discoloration with industrial hydrogen peroxide 30% by volume.   After a few localized treatments with exposure to the sun the discoloration will be much less.  Wear gloves! and use an old disposable brush.

 

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There are so many obstacles to getting a sale for any violin, I feel this is yet another log in the road ... at the point where you start explaining to a client that there are no structural issues, the crack doesn't go all the way through etc, you are already on the back foot and have lost their confidence.

So if there isn't a commercial imperative then I would finish the violin as is - if you need to make decent sale I would start again!

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There are a few more hidden factors in deciding what to do.

-This is a commission, where the customer specifically picked out that piece of wood.

-The garland is complete, made from matching wood, and flame oriented to coordinate with the back

-The commissioner wants a straight-varnished instrument with flawless (well, as good as I can do) workmanship and finish.

With these other factors in mind, the flaw doesn't look very good, and starting over completely would put his instrument into the next build cycle, another year away.  I've been thinking more about a patch, and it might not be as bad as I first thought.  My first thought was "pitch pit patch", going completely through the plate to fix a structural gap, which I have done before.  But this isn't a structural problem, so I only need a thin veneer patch (after scraping to the finished arch).  I can cut the veneer from the inside, trim it to shape, and see how it lays on top of the flaw before taking the irreversible step of cutting down ~1mm into the flaw.  

I think I could do a decent patch job, and certainly would be less obvious, even if some of the flame doesn't perfectly match up. I like challenges, too.  The final decision, however, would be up to the client.

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2 minutes ago, Don Noon said:

There are a few more hidden factors in deciding what to do.

-This is a commission, where the customer specifically picked out that piece of wood.

-The garland is complete, made from matching wood, and flame oriented to coordinate with the back

-The commissioner wants a straight-varnished instrument with flawless (well, as good as I can do) workmanship and finish.

With these other factors in mind, the flaw doesn't look very good, and starting over completely would put his instrument into the next build cycle, another year away.  I've been thinking more about a patch, and it might not be as bad as I first thought.  My first thought was "pitch pit patch", going completely through the plate to fix a structural gap, which I have done before.  But this isn't a structural problem, so I only need a thin veneer patch (after scraping to the finished arch).  I can cut the veneer from the inside, trim it to shape, and see how it lays on top of the flaw before taking the irreversible step of cutting down ~1mm into the flaw.  

I think I could do a decent patch job, and certainly would be less obvious, even if some of the flame doesn't perfectly match up. I like challenges, too.

Although I really like the looks of that fault, since it's a hand picked commission I believe the last word should come from the costumer, and I'm absolutely sure you can fix this to perfection if he/she wants that.

Perhaps hollowing the inside just beneath the faults and check them with a strong light for any more surprises might be prudent.

by the way, really nice work!

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